3rd Axis Leveling Process
First, begin by clamping the bow in a vise and placing a snap on string level onto the bowstring to level the bow to 90 degrees forward and back. Second, place a small torpedo level against the bow riser and adjust the vise until that level is centered.¹ Third, adjust the sight to center the sight level so that it matches the torpedo level against the bow riser. Fourth, tip the bow back approximately 30 degrees in the vise. In most cases, the sight level will have moved to one side or the other simply by tipping the bow back. (This is what 3rd Axis leveling is all about!) Fifth, adjust the sight at the 3rd Axis joint while keeping the torpedo level against the bow riser. Simply swing the 3rd axis joint slightly in toward the bow riser or away from the bow riser until the sight level is once again centered. Now lock down all sight adjustments. Finally, check for proper setting by tipping the bow forward and back in the vise seeing that the sight level and torpedo level stay centered with each other.
While leveling a 3rd Axis sight in the above manner and stopping there is better than nothing, setting the 3rd Axis while the bow is at full draw is a better solution. This is because drawing a bow introduces some lateral torque into the system.² Perhaps the most common and best way of leveling a 3rd Axis sight at full draw is by simply having another person or two help with the torpedo level and 3rd Axis adjusting while the person who will be shooting the bow holds the bow at full draw. Small adjustments can be made in a few different steps to allow the person drawing the bow to let down and rest. Great care should be used by all while making such 3rd Axis adjustments. (Above all; Safety First!)
Many people feel that a safer way to make 3rd Axis adjustments at full draw is with the aid of a device known as a Hooter Shooter.³ While the H.S. has many great uses, the reality is that it may not hold the bow at full draw the same way that the human bow shooter will. As a result, many still feel it is best to do 3rd Axis leveling by hand.
If a shooter is supremely confident in their form and shooting ability, they may also fine adjust their 3rd Axis leveling by simply going to a range and shooting up/down hill shots after the initial 3rd Axis set-up above. The shooter can make small adjustments to the 3rd Axis of their sight based on the left/right misses they are experiencing while shooting up/down hill. For those who have access to a good range and may not have reliable help to do full draw 3rd Axis adjustments this can be a good alternative.
¹ Do not trust a string level to do the side to side leveling of the bow because the bowstring is not always in line with the riser due to cam/idler wheel lean at rest as well as other factors. Double-sided 3M foam tape can be used to secure the torpedo level to the bow riser. If it is not left in place too long it should not leave residue on the bow.
² Lateral torque entering the bow system can be observed by installing a long stabilizer and watching it during the draw cycle of the bow. In most cases, the stabilizer will move slowly to one side throughout the draw cycle.
³ Spot-Hogg "Hooter Shooter" © Spot-Hogg
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3rd Axis Sight Leveling
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